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John DeShazier: Key ingredients to a Saints victory presented by Domino's

Saints need to get their running game going

  1. The New Orleans Saints have been talking about cleaning up their play in the secondary for four games. Sunday, hopefully, that task gets accomplished. Starting cornerbacks Brandon Brownerand Delvin Breauxhave accounted for 13 penalties (Keenan Lewishas returned to the lineup, and could replace Breaux at left cornerback and put Breaux back at nickel) and, obviously, the Eagles know it. So it makes sense that, despite the fact that the Eagles want to get their running game going, they'd challenge the Saints in pass defense and take their chances until New Orleans proves it can stop being as hands-y as it has been so far this season. Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford(six touchdowns, four interceptions) will want to take a shot at a defense that has allowed seven touchdowns, with no interceptions.
  1. That said, this is a chance for the Saints defense to have a solid day. Philly is last in the league in third-down conversion (26.5 percent), fourth from last in yards per game (294), fifth from last in total first downs (72, 18 per game) and 22nd out of 32 teams in scoring (19.5 points per game). The struggles that the Saints have had defensively (381.5 yards allowed per game, 24th in the league and a league-high 6.5 yards per play, and 26 points allowed per game) are weaknesses that also have been weaknesses for the Eagles' offense. The Saints don't want Philly to get on a roll now.
  1. The Eagles don't care a whit about time of possession; it's just about a given that the Saints will win that battle, since opponents own a 37:12-22:48 per-game advantage in that category over Philadelphia in the first four games. What's more important, of course, is that the Saints cash in with points in that time. Having Drew Breesback and healthier than he was last week – and he was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after going 33 for 41 for 359 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception, against Dallas – will go a long way toward the Saints having a productive offense. So, too, will an effective running game. The Saints are at 82.8 rushing yards per game, and need to get Mark Ingramand Co. in a groove.
  1. The good thing for Brandon Fieldsis this: the newly signed Saints punter (New Orleans needed one after Thomas Morsteadwas injured against Dallas) knows about kicking against teams in the East. He played eight seasons with the Miami Dolphins, an AFC East Division team that played road games against the Jets, Patriots and Bills. Fields was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2013, so he has skill. He'll need it in order to keep the ball away from former Saint Darren Sproles, who remains a dangerous punt returner. If Fields is a go, he has been made aware that Sproles has returned nine punts for 179 yards this season (a 19.9-yard average), including an 89-yard touchdown. Sproles has the green light, and he'll want to pop one against his former team.
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